Gov. Maggie Hassan is going forward with her long-planned trade mission to Turkey despite the state revenue dip that prompted her to freeze out-of-state travel. She makes an exception for her trip, saying it is worth the money even now. That position is undermined by the very figures her administration uses to promote the trip.
In a column here, Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeff Rose, who is to accompany Gov. Hassan on the June 20-27 trade mission, writes in defense of the trip. “In 2013, New Hampshire led the nation in export growth, increasing its merchandise exports by more than 22 percent, to $4.3 billion,” he points out. That is just shy of the state’s $4.4 billion export record, set in 2010. “The momentum carries into 2014,” he writes.
Then there is no reason for taxpayers to finance this trip. The Legislature ended taxpayer-funded trade missions in 2011. There has not been one since. And yet New Hampshire businesses managed to lead the nation in export growth. There simply is no urgent need for the state to spend scarce tax dollars on a trade mission with the state’s budget in such bad shape.
April revenues were $22 million short of projections, leaving the state only $3.9 million over budget for the fiscal year — and the economy contracted in the first quarter of the year, suggesting that revenue is in trouble still. The Medicaid enhancement tax deal reached by negotiators last week might not pass, which would mean that the $185 million hole in the current budget remains unfilled. This is no time to go spending taxpayer money on non-essentials. Once again Gov. Hassan fails to prioritize spending in a responsible way.